Nashville Officials Create Fund to Help Businesses As Number of Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Soars

 

Officials in Nashville have set up a fund to help people who have fallen ill to the coronavirus or lost their jobs or number of working hours because of it.

Nashville Democratic Mayor John Cooper announced the fund at a press conference Wednesday.

Cooper said small businesses facing hardships may also take advantage of the fund, which has thus far raised half a million dollars.

“The decision to declare a public health emergency and to place restrictions on our hospitality providers is serious. It has an effect that the Metro Government, along with our community partners, is taking steps to address,” Cooper said.

“But these are strategic, short-term solutions that will make a tremendous long-term difference in flattening the curve and stopping the spread of coronavirus in our community.”

Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation CEO Butch Spyridon said the coronavirus emergency will hit the city’s hospitality industry the hardest.

Alex Jahangir, who chairs the Metro coronavirus Task Force, said at the press conference that, as of Wednesday, Nashville had 46 confirmed cases of the illness.

“That is an increase of 21 over the past 24 hours. The patients range in age from 11 to 73-years-old. Of the confirmed cases, two are hospitalized,” Jahangir said.

“The other 44 cases are self-isolated at home with mild and manageable symptoms. We expect the number of cases to increase as testing increases. Commercial lab testing continues to expand. Most of the cases are linked to travel or a cluster of cases from a known exposure.”

Meanwhile, Nashville Public Health Director Mike Caldwell said city officials could restrict the public from venturing out to more places.

“We will look carefully to see if additional restrictions are warranted,” Caldwell said, even though he did not offer specifics.

As reported Tuesday, Nashville business owners who have either had to temporarily close their businesses or limit capacity because of the coronavirus emergency, per city orders, might have another way to help their employees.

But it’s just a proposal at this point.

Nashville Metro At-Large Council member Steve Glover told The Tennessee Star Tuesday that he would file a late resolution to use liquor tax funds to help struggling businesses.

Glover said his proposal would ask the state to forego collecting the liquor tax in these restaurants and let restaurant and bar owners utilize that money to help their employees.

Glover said Wednesday that he could not do anything with the proposal at Tuesday’s Metro Council meeting.

“Everything is moving so rapidly right now. It’s challenging to even try to stay on top of what’s happening,” Glover told The Star.

“We didn’t bring up anything other than what absolutely had to happen, given the volatility of every aspect of life that is happening right now.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “John Cooper Press Conference” by John Cooper.

 

 

 

 

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